WHO concerned over soaring diseases due to floods in Pakistan
The global health watchdog said water supply was disrupted in flood-hit areas of Pakistan, forcing people to drink unsafe water which could cause cholera and other diseases.
ISLAMABAD: The World Health Organisation has expressed fears about an impending second disaster of water-borne diseases in Pakistan in the wake of devastating floods that has wreaked havoc in several parts of the country.
In a statement issued by WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the global health watchdog said water supply was disrupted in flood-hit areas of Pakistan, forcing people to drink unsafe water which could cause cholera and other diseases.
The WHO has cautioned people across flood-hit areas of Pakistan, precisely the worst affected Sindh province to be extra careful.
Tedros on Saturday highlighted that stagnant water serves as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and spreads vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue and urged donors to continue to respond generously to 'save lives and prevent more suffering'.
Separately, the WHO Director general tweeted that he was "deeply concerned about the potential for a 2nd disaster in Pakistan, spreading disease and threatening lives following the flooding" and asked for quick support to tackle the issue.
"If we act quickly to protect the health system and deliver essential services, we can reduce the impact of this impending health crisis," he tweeted.
The situation in Pakistan continues to be grim as the devastating floods have caused havoc in the country, precisely Balochistan and Sindh provinces.
At least 1,545 people have been killed due to the floods across Pakistan and an estimated 16 million children impacted.
The WHO has immediately released USD 10 million from the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies which enabled the global health body to deliver essential medicines and other supplies to the country.
In a related development, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Sunday announced to support flood relief and reconstruction efforts in Pakistan under its current bailout package for the country.
The fund last month restored a stalled economic assistance package and also provided USD 1.1 billion to the country.
The IMF's resident representative in the country, Esther Perez Ruiz, said in a statement that the IMF was 'deeply saddened' by the devastating impact of the recent floods in Pakistan and extended its sympathies to the millions of flood victims.
"We will work with others in the international community to support, under the current programme, the authorities' relief and reconstruction efforts, and especially their ongoing endeavour to assist those affected by the floods while ensuring sustainable policies and macroeconomic stability," the statement said.
However, it is not clear how IMF would provide support under the existing Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement, which was signed in July 2019 to provide USD 6 billion to Pakistan during a 39-month period.
But the IMF board had approved an extension of the program until end-June 2023 and also enhanced it to about USD 6.5 billion.
The Sindh health department, meanwhile, said a total of 2.5 million patients had been treated at different medical camps across the province from July 1 to date, the Dawn newspaper reported.
As many as 594,241 patients were treated for skin-related diseases, followed by diarrhea (534,800), malaria (10,702), dengue (1,401), and other diseases (120,745,1), stated a report by the Sindh Directorate General Health Services.
The report also showed that 90,398 patients were treated during the last 24 hours, of which 17,919 had diarrhea, 19,746 had skin-related diseases, 695 had malaria and 388 had dengue.
Around 92,797 people were treated in the province on September 15, the paper reported.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the health department said that its officials are already struggling to stem the spread of dengue hemorrhagic fever in flood-hit districts of the province, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.